A Random Walk


A photograph, the moment it’s taken, is of the past; the shutter freezes the moment. Yet graphene is a dynamic force in the world – young, growing and evolving. A Random Walk acknowledges this apparent paradox, of trying to speak about the dynamic and the developing in a visual language that crystalizes the moment. The black and white image is itself a paradox; an analogue technology that aesthetically refused to die despite the ubiquity of the Kodachrome colour photograph. The monochrome form references the (lack of) colour of graphite, the carbon crystal from which graphene is isolated.

A Random Walk also acknowledges its own incompleteness. Taken from Sir Andre Geim’s acceptance lecture Random Walk to Graphene when, in 2010 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Sir Kostya Novoselov, this collection of photographs can never be anything more than a random walk around graphene. At this point in time there are more than 250 researchers working across The University of Manchester, conducting research that stretches deeper and wider than anywhere else in the world. The journalists, bloggers and cheer-leaders are clamouring for this new wonder material to change the world yet the academics and those close to the real work, are excited but circumspect. I have tried to tell their stories.

If graphene does open the door to a new 2D family of wonder materials, the new materials of our age, it will become so familiar it may cease to feel remarkable. Then, the photographic moment will serve as a small memento of these remarkable people engaged in a remarkable collective project which originated in Manchester, the city of graphene.